This story was my second progression in writing. I was working on my first person pov voice. It was important for me to be casual but believable. I hope I achieved it.
They had known each other since grade school...just kids figuring out who they were. He had a crush on her...she knew this,...not simply because she sensed it but because on the last day of school his best friend told her. Yet as close as they were and with the many opportunities he had to tell her how he felt about her...he didn't. Perhaps it may have been because during the time she had been secretly fawning over one of the boys in their grade...she didn't tell him this but she was sure that he knew. How could he not? After all most of the school knew.
They knew how she and Jimmy had been friends and he had pursued her aggressively throughout high school. She was his prize to be won. After all he got every girl he ever chased after...being that he was the best looking guy in the grade girls saw him to be just as a big prize. She eventually caved in and said yes only to break up with him a month later. It's one thing to win a prize and it's another when you find out that prize has enough tentacles to outdo an octopus. Yet, she was one of the few girls who never allowed him to disrespect her and he liked that. Jimmy was used to girls allowing him to fondle them and used them as his little science project but whenever he would try that with Angela she had no qualms about slapping him square across the face.It was this no non-sense that changed their relationship into simply a friendship...however, their friendship was probably everything but simple. As a means to get Angela jealous Jimmy decided to pursue one of Angela's close friends Jasmine. Little did Jimmy or Angela know that Jasmine would actually say "yes". Afterall, it did go against the best friend rule. Still this didn't interfere in Angela and Jimmy's friendship, at least not right away.....if anything it made it stronger. They spoke on the phone every day about everything from the other kids in the school to very private and intimate secrets. After some time and without warning they both realized two things: 1. Somewhere along the lines of this friendship somehow they ended up falling in love and 2. They both felt extremely guilty about it. After all, he had been dating Angela's best friend for about six months by then and had grown to actually care about her. Jimmy had grown up but not enough time to avoid breaking Jasmine's heart and Angela knew this. He had grown tired of being the bad guy.... the one who played games. So that left Angela to do one thing...the only thing she could do. She made the choice for him and walked away. She walked away from the love she felt for him, the friendship they had formed, from all of it. Here was the problem: Jasmine could never know otherwise they both would end up losing even more then just each other....they would lose her too. So they each kept silent and tried to keep as much distance from each other as possible....both suffering inside. Of course, Jimmy just focused all his energies on Jasmine but Angela continued to suffer in silence. She was forced to watch the happy couple hold hands and allowed other people to just assume the reason for her distance was because she had a crush on her best friend's boyfriend which was not a complete lie but was only half the truth as well. Angela willingly switched roles with Jimmy and allowed herself to be portrayed as the bad guy instead of him. Eventually time healed some wounds and regardless of their efforts the friendship between Angela and Jasmine diminished....after about a year so did the relationship between Jasmine and Jimmy. And while their friendship was never quite the same and they both went on in their lives to date then eventually marry other people...the love they once shared always shared a special place in their hearts and unspoken memories.
But there were others in Angela's life that never received the spotlight; others that were shadowed by the soap opera that was going on in her life at the time. Xavier was one of those people. Xavier was warm, kind and was like the big brother Angela never had. They had often walked up and down the sidewalk adjacent to the school talking about his relationship issues. On those cold winter days you could easily find Angela's hands snuggled in Xavier's coat pocket.
And now, some twenty years later they had found each other again. She had moved, losing contact with almost everyone she knew from the block. The only two people from the school she had stayed in contact with were the ones who completed the "golden girls"....that's what Angela, Jasmine, Veronica, and Sophie called themselves. Each one of them had their unique personalities: Angela was the wisecracking smart-ass who gave great advice, Jasmine was the sweet but sometimes clueless one, Veronica was the zealous over-developed man-eater, and Sophie was the loyal tomboy. While Jasmine decided to move on to pursue other adventures and new friendships the remaining three kept in contact and saw each other through boyfriends, marriages, divorces, and children. It was through Veronica that Xavier found Angela again. One October morning Angela opened up her mail box to find a note written by him.
"You were gone! I didn't know what had happened to you or where you went. All I know is I missed seeing your warm smile and an inexplicable sadness overtook me. I was too young to comprehend all the emotions I felt but it was love in the most selfless sense. To know that you had found happiness in your new life and that you were doing well brought warmth to my heart. I don't know much but I do know that I like it when you"re around and I can't wait to see you again.
Angela was overwhelmed. It brought such joy to her heart to know that Xavier had missed her as much as she missed him. To know that somewhere there was that person who thought of the memories that were so special to her as well. Then she began to think about how different things might have been if Xavier would have told her back then how he truly felt about her. But those were just empty thoughts. She was sure he would be married now with children. Besides they lived in two separate states and they barely had any time to talk about the lost years. However, they had promised to keep in touch and to find a time to be able see each other again. That time came sooner than either Angela or Xavier had planned. Angela got the call that her favorite aunt was on her deathbed and Angela needed to make a trip to the Brownstone as soon as possible. So she cancelled all of her contracts for the next few days and booked a red-eyed flight into JFK airport. When she arrived she rented a car and went straight to her aunt's house where all her other relatives were gathered. Tia Lola did not look good at all. She was in bed with barely the strength to speak but when she saw Angela her face glowed with happiness.
"my beautiful Angela came to see me" she said in a weak frail voice.
" yes Tia, I"m here but you really didn't have to cause all this commotion for me to come out to see you," Angela said to her with a bit of humor.
"true, but you know me...if it's not done with flair then there's no point to doing it at all" she said with a slight chuckle. "I am especially glad you"re here Mija, there's something I need to tell you but I need you to not say anything to anyone about this until I"m gone".
"Tia, don't speak that way, you"re going to be just fine" Angela managed to say with a slight lump in her throat.
"my sweet Angela, you try so hard to be positive about everything but I"m an old woman and one thing old people know is when it's their time to go and I know that my time is now. But before I go I want you to know something" and she gestured for me to get close so she could speak in a whisper.
"okay Tia, what is it" Angela whispered back.
" I want you to know how much I love you and how very proud I am of you"
"I know Tia and you know that I love you very much as well".
"yes, I do know this and this is why when I die I want you to take the Brownstone and all the money that comes with it....any other money I have will be distributed among my three very immature children and their families".
Angela was in shock. The brownstone had belonged to her late husband and had been the main source and the only source necessary for income.
"but Tia....the boys..." Angela started to say.
"the boys will be just fine. They are getting exactly what they deserve treating their wives the way that they have. I guess I would have to blame myself for that though. Had I not allowed their dad to cheat on me so often then perhaps they would have turned out differently. Truthfully though...I was not exactly an angel myself. But you Angela, you are still so young and innocent and have so much to learn".
"but that's exactly why you should not give me the brownstone because I have not experienced enough yet".
"that's exactly why you do deserve it...because you think you don't. See, my boys would have taken the brownstone and not have thought twice about it. But you...you are so selfless that you don't see things that way. You take care of others...it's in your nature and you don't take what has freely been given to you. Instead you allow others to take what belongs to you. One day you will realize that you do deserve to be happy and you're going to have to take what is yours...even at the cost of hurting someone else".
"Alright Tia, if that's what you want but you do realize that the boys will be angry".
"Perhaps but they"ll get over it. Besides they may be selfish in their ways but they still love you and would rather see the brownstone go to family. And if not who cares! It's in my Will and they can't do anything about it!"
At this response Angela bursted into laughter. She loved how up front and direct her aunt was. Still it pained her heart to know that this wonderful woman that had practically raised her was about to take her last breathe.
"Tia, I love you" Angela repeated but this time much more heart felt.
Her aunt looked at her and said "and I love you too Mija. Now do me a favor....get me another blanket from the closet, kiss me on my forehead then close the door behind you. If I"m about to meet my maker I want to do so snuggled warmly in my bed."
Angela didn't argue. Instead, she grabbed the blanket from the top shelf of the closet, wrapped the blanket around her aunt's body, kissed her on the forehead and walked out the room closing the door behind her. She knew that would be the last time she ever spoke to her aunt and it pained her to leave.
That evening her cousin Levi called her to give her the news that Tia had died in her sleep. The funeral would be in two days that Saturday at 2 o'clock.
Angela laid in bed allowing the tears to just fall. She suddenly felt all alone knowing that her visits to the Brownstone would lack the presence of her aunt. She and Tia Lola were always close...even when her parents were alive. So when they were killed in a car accident the rest of the family really did not have to discuss who would take Angela in...that was obvious. Angela was only thirteen at the time so Tia was able to be a part of the many experiences adolescence and adulthood had to offer her. Tia even welcomed Sean openly into the family...although Angela always knew that she was not very fond of him.
When she was done crying she called her husband to tell him the news.
"Hi honey" Angela said.
"Oh hey, where are you?" Sean asked
"In the hotel." she answered.
"okay, cool!" he said
Angela just stood there waiting until she finally said, "so aren't you going to ask me how it went or whether she's alive or not?"
"oh yeah, right. So, is she?" he finally asked.
"no, she died a few hours ago".
"oh man, bummer. So when do you think you"ll be getting back home?"
"After the funeral."
"So what.....a day or two, ?"
"More like three, why?
"Nothing...I was just thinking about going fishing with the guys"
"Oh really...I thought before I left you said you weren't feeling well"
"Yeah, I know but I'm good now".
"Nothing. I"m tired I"ll call you tomorrow" and she hung up the phone.
The conversation was not exactly something Angela wanted or needed. She and Sean had their share of problems. It became especially worse after Angela's career started to take off. There was a disconnect between them and she wasn't sure what it was or how to handle it. It was as though they had become strangers in their own home. Even when Angela went to great lengths to reconnect with her husband it all seemed useless. She had the evening planned out perfectly. She set up every slightest detail, from the candles on the table to the sexy lingerie she wore to greet him at the door. But when he'd arrived home he barely took notice of her saying he was too tired to eat and smelling of liquor and perfume. Tia begged her to leave him on several occasions but the part of her that still carried some sort of love for her husband and wanted to see the marriage work could not.
Rather than allow the evening to get even worse Angela decided to get to bed early. Just when she was about to turn off the light her cell phone began to ring. She almost ignored it thinking it may be Sean again asking to find out the exact times to her return flight. But instead she picked up the phone to check the caller ID to find that it was not her husband at all but Xavier. For some reason she could not bring herself to answer his call...she just stared at the number as it continued to ring until the voicemail came on. Within one minute she received the notification that someone had left a message on her phone. She recognized his deep voice immediately.
"Hey Angela, it's me Xavier. I heard about your aunt and I wanted you to know how very sorry I am. She was a good woman. I wanted to go to the funeral and pay my respects if that is alright with you. So if you are here on your own and wouldn't mind me escorting you, give me a call. You have my number."
Even though Angela was excited to hear from Xavier she decided to play it cool and not call him until the next morning.
"how are you holding up?he asked her
"as best as I can I guess. I just can't believe that she's gone".
"Believe me, I completely understand. I've had my share of funerals and it is never easy.
"Thank you Xavier, It'll be nice to have an old friend there with me"
"Anytime beautiful... but listen, what are your plans for today"he asked
She hadn't really thought about it. She initially thought funeral arrangements would have kept her occupied but as it would have it Tia had all that already figured out. Tia Lola had made arrangements with the funeral director months in advance leaving nothing else for Angela to do but show up.
"No plans" she said
"Good...how about we meet up...its been a while and I would like to know what you have been up to for these past twenty or so years"
Angela just laughed, "you do realize that I'll be here for only two days?" she asked with a hackle in her voice.
"Yeah, I do...so we better get a move on. How about I pick you up around noon?" he said
"You know when I think about it now there is one thing I have to do...do you mind we just meet at the Brownstone?"
"Nah, works for me"
"Ok, good. Then I'll see you at noonish"
"Most definitely. Angela, I have been looking forward to seeing you for a long time".
She didn't know what to say. She could feel her cheeks get flush and was glad he was not able to see her "Ok, see you later" she said then hung up.
On her way to the Brownstone all Angela could think about was Xavier. Her stomach was in knots and she felt like a little school-girl. She couldn't remember the last time someone had an effect on her this way. Not even Sean while they were dating. Yet, here she was suddenly with her head in the clouds all over a man she hasn't seen in over twenty years; and back then he was not a man at all but a young boy. For all she knew he could have been bald with a beer gut the size of Texas. Still, something in his voice told her that he was still as handsome as he had been back then.
"Angela, get a grip" she told herself. The fact that she was meeting up with Xavier did not diminish the fact that she was still a very married woman. Perhaps not happily married but still married none-the-less.